Author’s Note: If you haven’t read the first part, catch it here!!

Karthik stood wrapped in his towel, fresh from his shower and examined the contents of his cupboard. He settled on a pair of jeans and a khadi kurta to go with it.

Just as he was helping himself to a good spray of his favorite perfume, Aparajita walked in, her hair done in the Lady Di style, wearing a sleeveless hand embroidered blouse with a plain handloom Kolkata saree, earrings dangling from her ears capturing the beauty of her elegant neck, an assortment of bangles completing the look that has captivated him all those years ago.

He remembered that fateful night so well. After meeting Anandhi and her family he felt he had found his better half. Who better than the simple beauty whose eyes spoke more than her lips? He eagerly and sincerely asked her parents to let them go for a dinner and they agreed.

That night, he called his parents to tell them the news. His father was pleased with the details he shared and passed on the phone to his mother. Amma got straight to the point – “Look Kanna, your brother married a poor girl and look at the situation now. They did not give him anything when they married off their daughter. After two years of keeping quiet I finally demanded that she speak to her parents and get a car so he can go with some dignity to office. You know what he did? He told me to choose if I want the car or if I want to stay with them! While I stood speechless, he packed all our belongings and shifted us to another house. Can you imagine?”

Karthik could very well imagine. His mother had dominated his father all their life and wanted to continue the sequel of domination in her son’s life. And he couldn’t help but think – what was in store next for him and Anandhi?

No. It was certainly not the right time to plan a life with Anandhi or anyone else. He would bring up every bad habit at dinner and ensure Anandhi wouldn’t even consider the alliance.

Yes, his plan had worked like a charm. It took a few tries. But at the mention of family separation, Anandhi stormed off, leaving him with his thoughts and regrets.

“I can’t believe you just did that dude”, said an indignant female voice, from the next table. As she stood up, raring for a fight, he looked up in anger, to see a dusky beauty, hair like Lady Di, kohl-lined eyes blazing like Durga Mata herself, dressed in a khaki kurta and salwar. Completing the ensemble – long ornate earrings, a huge bindi, a hand embroidered jacket and a cloth bag hanging to one side. Anger evaporated and curiosity and wonder took their place. He craned his neck to look down at her feet to see how her footwear went with the rest of the look.

But before his gaze could travel any further she gave him a knowing look and said “Up here dude, my eyes are up here. So what the hell was that all about??”

He smiled and said, “Join me for dessert?”

It was her turn to be surprised. But curiosity won and she settled herself where minutes ago Anandhi had gazed at him from across the table.

“So… Tambrahm alcohol drinking non-vegetarian smoker… what else besides this can you tell me about yourself?”

Neither knew how the next few hours passed by. She found out about the real Karthik behind the facade. He found out she was a vegetarian by choice. He listened amused while she ranted about ill treatment of animals and the pain of undergoing slaughter. She was a Bengali but in Chennai for work.

Aparajita. The one who is never defeated. She was true to her name. While neither of the parents attended or supported the alliance, a few years later their son Surya was born and all was forgiven. Both sets of grandparents showered their love. His mother finally realized the error of her ways and whole-heartedly accepted both daughter-in-laws. A large part of the credit for this went to Aparajita who slowly and patiently brought the family together. The family that Karthik once wanted to denounce.

He felt fate had a hand in that meeting with Anandhi. And if he ever met her again, he would thank her for lasting as long as she did, long enough for Aparajita to enter his life and fill it with happiness and love.

“My eyes are up here dude. Up here.”, she jokingly said, eyes twinkling. He dragged himself back to the present and smiled, taking her in his arms. “Shall we go get this dinner over with then?” he said.

They were still smiling at each other and talking about Surya and his future plans when the door opened and they were shown into the living room of his new friend Subbu. And Karthik could only stare in shocked silence when Subbu said “Anandhi, meet Karthik.”

Author’s Note: Where is this story taking Anandhi and Karthik next? Read on here!!